Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Editorial Note: This post is part of our blog series about diversity, equity, and inclusion. These posts are written by staff on our Equity Committee and originally shared internally. We're sharing them publicly to be transparent about our internal dialogue, reflections and learning process as we work on being an anti-racist organization. Image from https://www.uihi.org
A quiet crisis consumes America’s indigenous women.
While violence against women plagues every community across the globe, the Native American indigenous groups of North America are particularly hard struck by a malicious problem. Missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) present some of the highest statistics for violence and death in North America. The situation has existed for generations and continues to damage and destroy individuals and families to this day.
The US Department of Justice maintains records on murders every year across all demographics of men and women in the United States. When it comes to indigenous women, however, they are 10 times more likely to be killed than the average national murder rate. And, despite how high these statistics seem, they cover only a small percentage of all the native women who are victims of violence every year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native American women under the age of 35 experience a higher murder risk almost any other group. Among indigenous women, death by murder is the third most prevalent cause of death for girls and young adults from age 10 up to age 34. Despite this, indigenous women are grossly underreported as missing or murdered on a national level. In 2019, a total of 5,712 cases of missing indigenous women were recorded by the Urban Indian health Institute. However, the US Department of Justice’s official missing persons list only includes 116 of these individuals.
While these numbers are shocking, the high rates of killing and kidnapping of indigenous women are so much more than a devastating data point on the crime charts of this country. The problem has existed for generations, and very few things are being done to solve it. The complexity of the issue is as deep and wide as any other crime issue in the United States today.
May 5th is recognized nationally by the United States Congress as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Day. This day honors the birthday of Hanna Harris, a young Northern Cheyenne woman who went missing in Lame Deer, Montana and was found five days later in 2013; she was determined to have been raped and murdered. This day seeks to honor the memory of Hanna Harris and to commemorate other missing and murdered Indigenous women within the United States while raising awareness about this issue.
To honor these women, to bring awareness of this issue, to show solidarity and solicit an increased dialogue about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, please take a moment to learn more about this issue by visiting: https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw